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Posted: Nov 26, 2013
On-road energy harvesting
(Nanowerk News) Road transport is a major consumer of energy. However, new concepts aim to turn the sector into a producer, too, by harnessing energy from moving cars.
Funded by the EU, the research initiative POWERAMP developed roadway-energy harvesting prototypes based on dynamic speed bumps that are able to transfer kinetic energy from vehicles passing over them. The collaborative project developed the system from its initial design through to manufacturing, and on to validation in real-world pilot programmes.
The bumps are intended for areas where speed needs to be controlled or where vehicles are stopping. This means that they can serve a dual function and increase road safety — applicable in areas close to pedestrian crossings, and near schools or residential areas. Notably, their height is adjustable to different traffic speeds, which means they can be used on a range of road sizes.
Key elements of the POWERAMP team's design concept were that there must be no disturbance of a vehicle's trajectory or discomfort to passengers. Their solution had to be able to withstand large, high-velocity forces over hundreds of millions of fatigue cycles, so the materials had to be highly durable. They also had to be able to withstand extremes of temperature, require low maintenance needs, and pose no hazards to pedestrians or other road users such as cyclists.
The POWERAMP system was proven in testing and is expected to be commercially viable within two years.
With a readily available source, road-energy harvesting is a potentially huge new source of renewable, clean energy. It has been estimated that it could account for EUR 2 billion annually. With European companies leading innovation in the field, it could be a major source of economic growth for the EU's technology and construction sectors.